Creating support systems
Some companies have taken heed, Sepler said, and refrain from scheduling major meetings on Friday afternoons and Monday mornings. Some take pains to frequently measure their employees’ engagement and, when possible, give workers more control over their hours.
Financial service companies, in particular, “are doing a lot to get people engaged,” Sepler said, and many multinational companies have been strongly committed to enhancing employee engagement.
“Having the flexibility to work from home on Monday morning and come in later, or just spending less time at work seems to improve the way people feel,” Sepler said. “Otherwise they might get to feeling like they’re on a little gerbil wheel.”
While school administrators haven’t altered schedules, some have beefed up support programs for students and their families to address stress and anxiety, said Meger.
Even those who work on Sundays have noticed the phenomenon.
Among them: the Rev. Bill Bohline Hosanna! Lutheran Church, who recently delivered a series of sermons based on his book “It’s Sunday, But Monday’s Comin’,” which addresses the disparity between the day of worship and the rest of the week, when the “good news” message fades.
Many of his 6,000-plus parishioners leave the Lake-ville church Sunday morning “filled up with a sense of connection and a renewal for the coming week,” he said. “But realities set in, and even as people of faith, we can get caught up in circumstances. And quite often that affects our outlook and mood, and it can do that powerfully.”
Light and loss
That sinking feeling might be felt more forcefully by certain types of people and at certain times of year.
Those prone to anxiety “experience a more active dread,” Sepler said. And ultra-organized folks “who want things perfectly arranged might be a little more prone to anxiety,” Meger surmised.
Early darkness could contribute, as well. A poll in Britain, where the winter days are even shorter than here, pegged the onset of Sunday sadness at 4:13 p.m.
Meger, for one, thinks there’s a seasonal spike. “That sunshine means something to all of us,” she said. “We also miss not being able to be in the outdoors, not going out and throwing the football or just going for a walk.”
But just going for a walk isn’t likely to cure the blues. What Bemis recommends is hopping on tasks rather than procrastinating, planning activities early in the week so you have something to look forward to and allowing yourself some unplugged time.
Pastor Bohline calls for an attitude adjustment.
“The reality is that we control very little in our lives,” he said. “I do have choice in the workplace about my attitude, to see myself as a contributor not a victim. I have gifts I can bring. But as soon as I’m focused only on me, the victim mentality, it goes wrong.”
Don’t be counting on a quick cure, however. For most people who have them, the Sunday night blues tend to fade slowly over time.
“I suffered from it for years,” said former teacher Steve Phillipps of Edina. “It took being retired over a year before I would stop feeling depressed Sunday nights.”